Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Sleuth - Swell

Corwin Ericson's debut novel offers many delights. One is watching Orange get subjected to all manner of abuse, including a simulated deep-sea dive, dirty restaurant work, numerous occasions where he falls overboard, wearing other people's clothing, getting abducted by a sexy/angry woman, and meeting his greatest fear headlong—having to swim half-naked in pond filled with vampiric lampreys (eel-like creatures). For Orange, even a jaunt in the sauna with naked ladies or a BBQ with Koreans can transform into roguishly painful event.

Found via: Omnivoracious 
Purchase Now from Amazon: SWELL

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

World Book Night Update!

I just got my official assignment from World Book Night!

Dear Nicole,

We're incredibly sorry to have kept you waiting for so long. This entire process has been a more intensive experience than we expected and we thank you very much for your patience. We're very sorry that this email didn't go out last week.

First of all, we're delighted to confirm that the book you'll be giving away is Wintergirls. We hope you're happy with it even if it isn't your first choice. 

It was my first choice! 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Wintergirls

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jan Berenstain Passes Away at 88

Via Flavorwire:

Sad news for the many generations who grew up reading Berenstain Bears books: Jan Berenstain, who co-authored and illustrated the books with her husband, Stan, has died. The Associated Press reports that the 88-year-old Berenstain passed away Friday after suffering a stroke on Thursday. Her career spanned half a century and produced over 300 books that have been translated into 23 languages and sold over 260 million copies. 

Visit the Children's Bookstore to purchase some Berenstain favorites.

Battle of the Kids Books - 2012

2012Brkt 600px NO JUDGES The Brackets

It's that time of year again! Battle of the Kids' Books starts in just a couple weeks. Sadly, this year - I've not read any of them. Starting a career in academic publishing - while I love it - has really pulled me away from the world of kid lit. I didn't realize how much until right now. I think I at least have Wonderstruck on my shelf, I'll get that read before the games. 

Anything good that you've read on this list? 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Coming Out of the Game Closet

I feel like every time I begin this conversation, I immediately get defensive. And with good reason. Here, I'll just come out and say it. I play Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, I play in more than one game.  How many of you laughed at me, rolled your eyes, or just immediately thought really horrible stereotypical things about weird nerds in dingy basements?

Before moving to Albany, I had zero concept of what D&D actually was. The best picture I had in my head was some sad kid, all alone in a basement. It was actually prime time TV that changed my opinion of the game - an episode of Community where the characters sit down to the ultimate game of Dungeons and Dragons to save some friendless nerd's life. It was then that I realized, D&D isn't a game for loners. It's a social event where every member participates in collective story telling.

My main group gets together once a week. There's six of us - five ladies and one dude, which is kind of unheard of in this world of gamers. Every week, one of us cooks something different. And then we settle down to play. Every week is a writing exercise. For my own character - a male cleric named Haern who worships the god Torag - I sat down and figured out everywhere that Haern has been in order to understand his motivations within the game. The base of the story is held together by the game leader - or, erm, the Dungeon Master. However, by the decisions we make and actions we take - the rest of us shape the story into what it is.

I think the game has a lot to do with how creative I've been feeling lately. I started working on my novel again and realized that I am, suddenly, more than halfway through. And I have completed outlines for two more once I finish. Of course it's a combination of things - from blogging more frequently to taking classes at East Line. But - I think the time I spend with the game every week is an exercise that is essential to the creative process. At the very least, I've honed my characterization skills. But I think also paying attention to the various outcomes that can change drastically based on just one character's decision has changed the way I approach pacing and plot.

Here are a couple more hilarious TV renditions of the game I've come to love:

From the I.T. Crowd, a hilarious British comedy staring Chris O'Dowd. I wish I could find a better clip. In this one, Moss is entertaining business guests with his role-playing game. The suits are being whiny in this clip, but by the end of the episode, they're pretty into it.

And lastly, Freaks and Geeks:

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Postmortal - Drew Magary

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: 2012 

If you could suspend aging and live out the rest of eternity at the age you are now - would you? Consider the fact that you will be immortal, not invincible. You can still get cancer or die with the pull of a trigger. As Magary writes - "What this cure guarantees is that you will never die a natural, peaceful death." 

It is 2016 and a cure for aging has been invented. It is an illegal cure until several terrorist attacks on cure doctors around the nation and various other protests forces the legislation's hand. Via a series of blog-like posts written by a man named John Farrell, Drew Magary all too realistically describes just what a cure for aging might mean for the citizens of this world. From changes in healthcare benefits to the legalization of the death penalty for crimes other than murder. Cycle marriages that guarantee you don't have to spend eternity with your spouse if you don't want to. Complete annihilation of natural resources. Overpopulation which leads to government sanctioned assisted suicides. And government sanctioned genocide of the elderly. America as a third world nation. It's a near future that almost seems ... inevitable. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Postmortal: A Novel

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Top Ten Favorites of All Time

Part of the new blog look was creating this awesome Feed Your Addiction Bookstore where my readers could shop for books if you all felt like taking my recommendations. In going through the exercise to populate each of the sub-stores with books, I realized - I've never done a Top Ten Favorite Books of ALL TIME as listed on Shelfari. Here goes - in absolutely no particular order.

Ishmael - This book brings up so many difficult to comprehend realities about the state of the world in which we live. And, even though it's about taking care of the planet we live on - I didn't find it preachy or over-the-top. Just incredibly written and so very moving. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Cat's Cradle - My favorite Vonnegut, for sure. Cat's Cradle: A Novel

Hamlet - Just such an amazing play. My copy of Hamlet is so well-worn and filled with notes, it'd be ridiculous if I didn't include it in my Top Ten. Hamlet

The Sun Also Rises - And the book that made me fall in love with Ernest Hemingway. Since my relationship with the author is fairly deep, this book (also well-worn and FILLED to the brim with notes) will forever hold a special place in my heart. The Sun Also Rises

The Count of Monte Cristo - I tore through this book when we read it in high school. I've been meaning to give it a re-read for years. Maybe next year, I'll take the time to read through all of my favorites and see if they still hold the same enchantment for me. The Count of Monte Cristo

Fall On Your Knees - This is one that's sure to never leave my list. I've read it several times and fall even more in love with it every time. It's incredibly haunting. So beautifully written, it hurts. If this wasn't such a contemporary novel, it'd certainly be a classic. Fall On Your Knees (Oprah's Book Club)

Lord of the Rings - Before Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom, there was the Fellowship. LOTR was the first book to ever cause me to miss characters I'd become even more familiar with than some of my own friends. The Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary, One Vol. Edition

Chronicles of Narnia - Read and re-read, again and again. The Magicians Nephew is my particular favorite of the series, as it gives the origin of the Wardrobe and the background of Professor Diggory Kirke. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia

Harry Potter - I've lost count of how many times I've either read or listened to these books. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of them. Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - I re-read this one pretty often as well. I think it was the first book that I ever read that had such an amazing twist - it taught me that not every book is predictable and that girls can be heroes, too. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Shop all of My Favorites

Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Sleuth - Nigger

Found via: East Line Books

East Line is where I take my writing classes every Wednesday. Last week, I showed up a little early and began perusing the shelves. I ended up in the Biography section and this book caught my eye for obvious reasons. However, the reasons that caused me to hide the book away so that I could easily find and purchase it when I next have money were completely different. Well-written and poignant, this is an amazing look into the Civil Rights movement told by a comedian who wanted to give back to his community. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Nigger : An Autobiography

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Maurice Sendak Interviewed by Stephen Colbert

Matt's been working on a report on Where the Wild Things Are for his Children's Lit course. He spent last night researching Maurice Sendak and came across these. They're not that old, from the end of January. That's actually really old in internet time, but I hadn't see these yet. So great.

Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A New Experience

If you hadn't already noticed - I've completely re-designed my blog in a way that I feel is incredibly more user-friendly.I just wanted to take a moment to bring you through some of the newest features -

Subscribe! I've made it a tad easier for users to subscribe. Of course, its every bloggers dream to have hundreds of subscribers. I can tell by following my blogger statistics that readers are out there. I've now made it easier to follow my posts using the RSS reader of your choice OR via e-mail. Then, of course, just below my Shelfari Shelf is the Google Friend Connect, if you prefer to follow my blog that way. Anyway you want it - so please consider subscribing!

Twitter Feeds - The feeds are located in two places along the sidebar, so feel free to scroll down and enjoy. First, you'll find my twitter feed - feel free to read and follow! The second feed, however, is the one I find most exciting. This feed follows the industry - publishing houses, authors, agents, and other bloggers - as they tweet about the things we all love best!

Labels - I've taken them out of the ugly cloud at the top of the page and placed them along the side. I've also cleaned them up CONSIDERABLY, so there are only a select handful instead of mess of 50 or 60 tags.

Top Navigation - If you don't feel like scrolling down to the labels, use the top navigation to get to where you want to go. Reading, Writing, Publishing, News, Bookstore. It's all pretty self explanatory.

And the feature that I'm most excited about - my Bookstore! I recently became an Amazon Affiliate, which means, yes, I make something like 40 cents or less every time someone purchases something from Amazon via my store. It's not much, will feed my book habit at the very least. I'm mostly excited because it gives you the opportunity to browse and shop a virtual bookstore, making this blog a reader's ultimate destination. In my mind anyway. Here's how it breaks down:

Reviewed Books - If you've found anything I've ever reviewed even remotely intriguing, you can either purchase using the unobtrusive link at the bottom of each post, or you can visit the Reviewed Books Store. It's where I've housed ALL of the books I've ever reviewed on this site.

All Top Ten Favorites - Every year, I post a list of the best books I read that year. This store has them all, including my Top Ten of all time and my number one favorite book from each year dating back to 2006, when I first started using Shelfari.

Books Sleuthed - Besides my reviews, my only other semi-regular feature is Book Sleuth where I feature books found and investigated via other book blogs, conversations with co-workers, or just a healthy jog around the bookstore. I've included all of these in one store. What's nice about this store is, you might find some obscure treasures just hidden away.

From Infants to Young Adults - The best way to find a gift for your kid, in my opinion. I read extensive amounts of YA and Teen fiction and have immersed myself in Children's Literature. In the past, because of my job, and now - just because I still love it so much. I promise to never add a book on here that I wouldn't read/ever want to read again.

I really hope you enjoy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Revisiting Classics

If you don't have the time to re-read the book yourself, venture over to Read One, Knit Too and consume this great review of a great classic - Orwell's 1984. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Sleuth: Couer de Lion

Found via: The Rumpus
Published by: Fence Books

I don't normally find myself being pulled in by poetry, but this seems intriguing. Hop on over to the Rumpus to read some excerpts within Liz Axelrod's review - I think you'll be tempted as well. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Coeur de Lion

Monday, February 6, 2012

What Makes a Good Writer?

Is it humility? The sheer inability to be able to confidently say - "I'm a good writer?" Different than saying I can write. Because I know I can write, which is why I even bother trying in the first place. But in my experience, those writers who say - "I am a good writer, read what I wrote," tend to be full of baloney. Bologna.

I think the best of us are rather plagued with the potential of writing poorly. Which is why we seek editors and writing classes and feedback. Which is why we're always willing to change and grow.

This comes up, of course, because of recent experience. I'm working on a short story to submit for consideration to an Anthology. The only criteria I had was - submit something powerful. I knew I wanted to work on something new - it's been a while since I've worked on a short piece and so, rather than edit something I already had, I wanted to create. But - thought powerful stories are inspiring, powerful itself, as a word, hardly does anything to immediately conjure up a plot.

So I thought, and thought, and thought and thought. And the deadline crept closer. And closer.

Friday night, the lightening struck. I was inspired by an article about a 14 year old prostitute who exchanged sex for a hamburger. My story really has not much to do with that actual article, but the article itself was enough of a shock to get the wheels turning. So I opened up a blank sheet and I got to typing, finishing my rough draft pretty quickly, over the course of an hour or two.

That's when the anti-writer steps in. The confidence shattering devil sitting on my shoulder, effectively driving the creativity angel away. "What did I just do?" I ask. So I send it off to a trusted friend. I know she'll give me good feedback - positive or negative, she'll tell me exactly how it is. But it's Friday night. And, though I know I can't expect an immediate response, after having sent it off, I would put my life on the line just to get one. Just to know what she thinks RIGHT THEN. As can be expected, I spent the next four hours refreshing my e-mail on both the computer and on my phone.


I'm not sure how I find the strength to battle these demons and continue on to write another day. But I do, and I'm always glad for it. Because, I know I can. And so I do.

How do you fight?

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